Sims v. Hyatte, No. 18-1573 (7th Cir. 2019)Annotate this Case
In 1993, Carey was a security guard at a night school. Carey arrived for his shift, traversed the premises, then returned to his car to read. The parking lot was not well lit. Around 7:00 p.m., Carey saw three black men walking toward his vehicle. About two feet from Carey’s car one man grabbed a gun from his coat and fired it through the window. Carey, shot in the face, made his way into the school. Help was summoned; 15-20 minutes after the shooting, the Elkhart police found Sims near about 20 feet from Carey's car. Carey’s identification of Sims in the photographic lineup was not unequivocal but Carey identified him at trial as the shooter. The police never found the gun. Sims was convicted of attempted murder and sentenced to 35 years’ imprisonment. In 2012, during a post-conviction evidentiary hearing, Sims learned the prosecution withheld evidence that Carey, the only identification witness, was hypnotized before trial to enhance his recollection. After the Indiana courts denied habeas relief, Sims filed a federal petition. The district court held that the Indiana court did not unreasonably apply established federal law. The Seventh Circuit reversed. The Supreme Court recognizes that suppression of strong, non-cumulative evidence related to the credibility of a witness who is critical to the prosecution's case, is material under Brady. The fact that Carey had been hypnotized would have undermined his credibility and changed his cross-examination dramatically.